(2017) Another deeply-coloured wine, organic certified and coming from the traditional Corbières appellation. It blends 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 10% Mourvèdre, all aged in oak barrels, 60% of which were new. It's immediately serious and savoury on the nose, vinous and darkly-hued, with damson and black cherry, a wisp of smoke and a bit of graphite in there too. Solid and powerful in the mouth, the vanilla of the oak helps soften the tannins, but it is a structured wine, crying out for beef or lamb - either that or give it some time: the fruit, black olive savouriness, density of texture and structure suggest to me this will cellar well for five years.
(2017) This is 100% Pinot Noir and comes from a small producer in the very south of the region, currently in conversion to organic certification. The colour is deep and the most striking aspect of the nose is the briary, truffly, lifted cherry floral character that is reminiscent of Cru Beaujolais in a way, the palate showing delightful red fruit ripeness and freshness - cherry and raspberry - before a drying, savoury tannin, nimble acidity and a little smoothing from its time in large oak 'foudres' eases the finish. Serve it a little cool and it is a sheer delight.
(2017) Yet another Languedoc pink that's a ringer in colour (and grape blend, 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah) for Provence rosé, but in this case, quite different in character: after a light, summer fresh nose there's real intensity on the palate: more tang and more fruit concentration than most Provence examples, real zip with lemony acidity powering through decisively.
(2017) An unusual sparkling rosé, made in the Loire Valley by the traditional method, with second fermentation in individual bottles. It's a blend of Gamay, Grolleau and Pineau d'Aunis, and has quite a deep colour with streaming small bubbles. On the nose it is all about buoyant, cheerful red fruits, summery and bright with rose-hip and strawberry. In the mouth that delightful red berry fruitiness and freshness continues, a cut of tart raspberry to add lovely balancing acidity, but the sweet elegance of the fruit powers through. Delightful and different.
(2017) This sparkling wine from the Loire Valley is an unusual Blanc de Blancs blend of Chenin and Chardonnay, made by the traditional method. Moderately small bubbles rise through the glass, and it is the fresh apple cut of the Chenin that dominates, before a little custardy infill from the ripe Chardonnay. In the mouth this has loads of flavour and fruit sweetness, though perhaps the mousse could be a little more fine. Tangy, with citrus and quite a vivacious feel, it drinks well and would be a fine aperitif fizz.
(2017) En garde for the 15% alcohol in this naturally intense, concentrated wine made from century-old Carignan vines in the Languedoc. Ageing in older oak barrels has softened the edges, but cannot suppress the glorious fruit aromatics, bursting with blackcurrant and plum, coated in a slick of cocoa. In the mouth it is super-sweet, the ripeness and clarity of that cassis fruit, a pastille quality, but no lightweight: the firm, grainy tannins and excellent acidity see to that, before a little mellowness eases the long finish. Fabulous stuff for sure. Watch the video
for more information and food matching ideas.
(2016) The rugged hills of the Roussillon region run to the Mediterranean sea in the deep south of France, close to the Spanish border. Here the fame of the Maury appellation was founded on fortified wines: the sweet, Port-style wines made from old, unirrigated vineyards of mostly Grenache. Now, more producers are making dry Maury, and this is a beefy but plush and fruity example of great quality, haunting creamy raspberry and strawberry notes mix with spice and wild herbs, before a powerful, full palate of smooth fruit that is deep and sweet, with fine tannins and acidity. Watch the video
for much more information and food matching ideas.